During tax-filing season, it pays to be aware of the ways that scammers and hackers may try to put your potential refund in their pocket.
How It Works:
A number of different scams tend to ramp up during the filing season. Tax identity theft occurs when someone steals your Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax refund or to get a job. There are also computer viruses out there (the “Emotet” virus for one) that can send emails supposedly from the IRS with a fake copy of your tax return. Once you click it, you may become vulnerable to hackers. And of course, the ever-present IRS impostor scam calls tend to be much more common this time of year.
What You Should Know:
- If the IRS receives a duplicate tax return filing using your Social Security number, you will receive a written notice through the mail.
- Likewise, the IRS will send a notice if you have unreported income or that you and someone else are claiming the same dependents.
- The IRS will not initiate contact with you by e-mail, text or social media. The IRS will not call you unless you have first heard from them by mail, and will never insist on payments using things like gift cards or pre-paid money cards (e.g. Green Dot).
Potential Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Being Victimized:
- Submit your tax return as early in the tax season as possible.
- Be careful what you share – don’t give out your personal information unless you know who is asking and why, and don’t be shy about refusing.
- Never open e-mail attachments that are not from a verified sender.
- Dispose of sensitive information safely – shred it with a micro-cut shredder.
- Know your tax preparer.
Check the status of your refund after filing at www.irs.gov/refunds. If you receive notice from the IRS that you are a victim of identity theft, call the number on the notice or 800-908-4490. Learn more at www.identitytheft.gov.
Reprinted from AARP